Wednesday, September 16, 2009


From August 31, 2009:
As a school principal, this would be my first official day back at work. Or maybe there was a compulsory first aid training course last Friday. In either case, I’m a no-show. This writing gig is for real, the summertime pastime officially evolving into a serious writing stint.

I’ve known that the next two weeks would feel awkward. With students heading back to school and the educational traditions of September featured in television and print news, driving across the country couldn’t completely suppress What I’m Not Doing This Year. It also happens to be the end of the month and the final day of my first block of a tightly set personal budget. As frugal as I’ve been (Mmm, oatmeal!), I think I went over by about fifty bucks. Things will only get tougher with costly winter heating bills to come.

I will experience highs and lows during my sabbatical and I’m hoping this is one of the lows. (I don’t want to go lower!) All my writing is on spec. There is no guarantee that anyone will express the slightest interest in any of it. Periods of self-doubt are inevitable.

Can self-doubt actually be a good thing for a writer? I remember listening to author Mem Fox speak at a regional International Reading Association convention in Calgary five years ago. She said that, for writing to matter, it must come from a place of hope and fear. Basically, hope and fear represent the two ends on the caring spectrum. Both can be channeled to improve one’s craft. If I only experienced hope, I might not have spent the morning closely scrutinizing and reworking a funeral scene I drafted last week. Hope alone can lead to complacency and a lack of sometimes brutal reflection.

I took heart in watching Julie & Julia yesterday. Both characters were hoping to get published as writers and both experienced plenty of fear and self-doubt. It’s an uncomfortable feeling that I don’t want to get stuck on, but it’s a healthy mindset if processed positively.

While teachers and students deal with their back-to-school jitters, I have my own to juggle. Things are the same, but different.

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